Kids painting potteryInterdisciplinary programs for Day in Clay.

The value of an interdisciplinary program is to integrate the performance aspects of the culture with the visual arts. This helps to give the student a more complete understanding of a culture that you might academically study. They provide avenues for all students, from gifted to at-risk kids, to learn and play through the arts, promoting understanding,respect, teamwork, self-confidence and leadership qualities in students. This is exemplified in the ceramic arts mask making and drum performance program.

Students create masks in the same style and traction of the African artists, Exploring the connection between the [patterns, symbols and imagery that are incorporated in to their own mask.

Drumming workshops with core group learning the history, culture and techniques of hand drumming, singing (call and response) and teamwork using Kofi’s village concept as a model freely creating their own rhythms.

Kofi Sankofa and Cliff Mendelson have worked together for years to create a unique African interdisiplinary program that culminates in a large assembly performance.

About: Kofi and Sankofa Drum & Dance Ensemble


Sankofa meaning – going back to the roots’ in the Twi language from Ghana, West Africa is very symbolic in promoting personal and community awareness of the positive role of the arts in the villages in West Africa demonstrated through our rich cultural values passed on to us by our great ancestors ‘Nananom’..

This group was originally formed in the summer of 1997 from my community drum circles in Allentown and Stroudsburg Pa. This group teaches togetherness in diversity and empowerment of the individual self-image as well as the community building/teamwork through African drumming and dance. Sankofa is made of four drummers and three dancers led by Kofi (an Asante prince from Ghana) and Yacin (a Wollof princess from Senegal). We teach authentic drumming and dance techniques with their history and cultural origins. The latter become the basis for the staff/students of the schools and organizations in also developing their own. Our performances, assemblies, and workshops generate the same community spirit of sharing, oneness, joy and love where everyone gets involved; both audience and performers.

Sankofa’s performance is electrifying in terms of the spiritual release in our drum, dance and songs (Chants). Sankofa has successfully completed over 800 residencies in schools as well as the community; from conferences to festivals. Notable amongst them are the 2006 UN Water Conference in Mexico City, Mexico; Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Folk Festival in Allentown, Pa; Indian summer Festival, Netcong, NJ; Jazz Festival, at the Delaware Water Gap, PA; International Festival and First Night at the Paramount Theatre in Middletown, NY; Sussex County Farm and International Shows, in Newton, NJ and eight World Trade Center Benefits in NJ, NY and PA for the Red [Cross and other non- profit organizations. Sankofa also uses drumming as therapy for the youth at risk and also self-awareness/ self- esteem programs for the youth. We conduct from one day to 30 day residencies with an effective planning with our host.

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